Latin Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
Transitive, intransitive, and those verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive are found in Latin as they are in English. They also function in exactly the same way in both languages. However, Latin is an inflected language, meaning the form of words change to indicate their function in a sentence. Consequently, identifying whether a verb is transitive or intransitive requires an understanding of the different cases of nouns.
Recall that Latin’s direct objects are indicated with the accusative case. When translating a sentence from Latin to English always identify the verb first and then look for its subject and any potential direct objects. Success or failure in finding the object of a verb will indicate whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. For example:
Puer rosam dat. (The boy is giving a rose.)
Caesar inimicum superavat. (Caesar defeated the enemy.)
Ionn librum legit. (John is reading a book.)
Notice that in each case, the verbs (dat, superavat, legit) have direct objects (rosa, inimicum, librum) indicating that the verbs are transitive. In contrast, look at these sentences with intransitive verbs:
Nauta est bonus. (The sailor is good.)
Di erant benigni. (The gods were kind.)
Puer sedet. (The boy is sitting.)
Notice that these example sentences have no direct objects receiving the actions of the verbs. This is what sets them apart from sentences with transitive verbs.